The Deathless Girls

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

Lil and Kizzy are twin sisters that are captured and taken away from their traveller family to live as slaves by settler, Boyar Valcar. While there, the girls learn about a mysterious man named the Dragon. The Dragon takes girls as gifts from Boyar Valcar and he has his eye on Lil’s beautiful sister. Unable to change their fate, Lil and Kizzy are drawn into a terrifying world of myths legends.

I am so here for vampires, so when I read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it! I enjoyed The Girl of Ink and Stars so I knew I liked the authors writing.

There were lots of things I enjoyed about this story. The connection between the sisters was wonderful to read about. I really liked Lil although I didn’t see why she was so enamoured with Kizzy, other than the way she looks. 

Mira was a great addition to the story line and I liked her and Lil together. It was very sweet and I really wanted things to work out for them. 

I did feel like this book was almost two separate stories. I was expecting lots of vampires but the vampire element didn’t come in until much, much later in the book which I found disappointing. Also, I found the choices that Lil made toward the end actually infuriating and the ending felt rushed. 

Overall it was an enjoyable story with some good elements but if you go into this expecting a vampire story from start to finish you will be disappointed.

Actual rating 3.5 stars

Thank you to Hachette and NetGalley for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The Deathless Girls was a dark and mysterious tale. It follows the story of sisters Kizzy and Lil, who are cruelly taken from their community and enslaved. Full of vivid descriptions. It has a dark presence that seeps through the very core, as we learn more. A sinister edge. 
Kiran Millwood Hargrave weaves a rich tale, filled with magic, taking inspiration from myths and legends. You can expect mysterious characters and strange occurrences.
Even though we know the outcome of the sisters, you still wish that everything would end happily.
Was this review helpful?
I really didn't know what to expect from this book but the interesting title name alone very much intrigued me and after reading the synopsis, I was very excited to get into the pages and start reading.

This book was a fabulous read and one that took me on a journey that I did not expect to go on. It brought me into its world straight from the first few pages and made me want to read on each time a section would come to an end. It is rare I read a book from front to the end very fast but I found this one broke that way of mine and made me want to see how it went on and in what way it ended.

I felt like it had such a great and unexpected plot and that is for sure one of the things I loved most too. When a plot both is something new and refreshing and lives up to your hopes it will be something different than usual as I love books that surprise me and take me on journies I never saw coming.

I really liked the characters and their development and it all felt perfectly matched to the things they all had to deal with at hand. The adventure you were taken on was deep, harsh and crazy. Yet I felt you really got to know the reality of what these people were dealing with and facing. I really was both sad and excited when I finished because it was such a good book. One of my favourites I have read for a long time!
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to Hachette Children's Group and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

So I was really pumped to read this, I really like Hargrave's writing and I'm also really excited to read The Mercies when it's released. Plus, a feminist Brides of Dracula retelling? Yeah, I'm here for that. 

There's not really any spoilers to be had with this book. The two main characters, Kizzy and Lil, are two young Traveller twins whose fate is to become 'The Deathless Girls' - two of the Brides of Dracula. 

The author does justice to her Traveller heritage and highlights the discrimination and hostility that sadly still continues to this day. I really liked both of the main characters, fiery Kizzy and thoughtful Lil. The supporting characters felt a little flat, particularly Mira considering the importance she plays in the story.

My main issue was the pacing. I got to 60% and wondered when something was going to happen. It is very much a character driven novel which is absolutely fine but given the subject matter I guess I was looking for a bit more sexy, dark angst and a bit duties.

When I was reading it I found myself checking whether or not it was a standalone. It all ties up nicely at the end, but it sometimes felt like the first in a series rather than a complete book. Sekifishly, I would have liked to spend some more time with these characters. 

The central romance is fine, it didn't set my world on fire but the main focus was on the relationship between the sisters rather than the romance so I was fine with how the love story played out. There's some good LGBT representation and it definitely gets the feminist stamp of approval.

The last 10% of the book left me conflicted because the story ended so perfectly with a bittersweet gut punch left me wanting more.

Overall a solid enough YA story that didn't quite live up to the expectations I had of it.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you for the opportunity to read this for review consideration. It was not really for me and as such I won't be providing a review.
Was this review helpful?
A fantastic novel with twists and turns that lead to a cold end. A love, a lust and a longing. A exciting narrative that meets all expectations and more.
Was this review helpful?
After reading the description and seeing Dracula mentioned, I knew I was going to enjoy this book and I so did. The writing was superb and the story was exactly what I'd hoped for. It's fast-paced and action packed right from the beginning as we're introduced to Lil and her twin sister Kizzy. They are travellers and taken into captivity and this is where it all starts. both girls have strong personalities and their bond is exceptional which is proved time and time again throughout the story culminating in the ultimate sacrifice for Lil at the end of the book. The description throughout the book is exceptionally vivid and I felt like I was part of the story as it unfolded. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say if you like a vivid story, with action, survival, and a bond that can't be broken, give The Deathless Girls a try. It has a bit of everything including some squirmish scenes and of course vampires.
Was this review helpful?
This was a fun book to read. It didn't blow my socks off but it was a decent page turner. 
I enjoyed some aspects a lot, like traveller culture. I thought there would be more of the vampire story. LGBTQ content was done nicely. 
Thanks a lot to the publisher and NetGalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book is dark, gothy and enjoyable- the cover is beautiful too. The LGBT themes are well done and natural, there is no element of them feeling forced just to have an LGBT character at all. This is excellent gothic YA!
Was this review helpful?
A YA Dracula retelling with a gorgeous gothic cover? Kiran Millwood Hargrave taking on a dark, feminist fantasy? Sign me up!

For the first few chapters, I was hooked. Hargrave's prose is as lyrical as ever. There is some wonderful world building, and I loved the focus on Lil and Kizzy's traveller community. Lil has a strong voice, and her role as the overshadowed sister makes for a unique narrative perspective.

However, after the opening action sequence the story itself becomes a little... lifeless. The horror in 'The Deathless Girls' is rooted in man's inhumanity to man, which is a brilliant take for a Dracula retelling. Unfortunately, the theme loses some of its effectiveness as the villains are overly one dimensional, almost pantomime bad guys. There is very little truly 'gothic' horror here: the horror is centred around the abuse the girls face, and rather than giving me thrills and chills, it was just a bit bleak. I almost felt at times like the premise was working against the plot; this was not quite the book I wanted it to be.

That said, I was truly invested in the romance (a rare occurence for me) and I loved the quasi-historical exploration of life as a girl of colour. I found myself wishing for more pages towards the end of the book - it felt like the ending fell just as things were getting started. I can only hope that all these unanswered questions are setting us up for a sequel!
Was this review helpful?
The opening scenes of this book are brutal and harrowing and things continue to get darker from there. This retelling of the brides of Dracula is beautiful and disturbing. To say I enjoyed it would be wrong- but it definitely stays with you.
Thank you Netgalley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
Enjoyed this dark twisted tale in this books and it was nice to see a well written LGBTQ theme as well.

Will most likely be a classic in years to come
Was this review helpful?
A beautifully told imagining of the origin of two of Dracula's brides. Kizzy and Lil are twins from the Traveller community, on the cusp of adulthood and hearing their futures foretold. Then their peaceful world is torn apart by a vicious attack and the girls are abduced and enslaved in the castle of the brutal Boyar Valcar. There they hear stories of the dark and terrifying Dracul, the dragon, the character of legends, who takes girls as gifts...

This is a wonderfully atmospheric and gripping tale. I wasn't too sure where the ending was going to take me, even though I had my suspicions, but I enjoyed every word of the story. Sinister, dark and magical. 

I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for n honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The Deathless Girls sounded like such a promising read, perfect for Autumn: who wouldn’t want to read a f/f reimagining of Dracula, which gives a voice to the voiceless? In Dracula, it is mentioned that the vampire has three brides, two dark, one fair. The Deathless Girls is the story of two of them.

From the first few words, The Deathless Girls is a brutal story and doesn’t shy away from the realities of history. It follows Lil and her twin sister Kizzy, which see their family and community slaughtered and burned to the ground on the eve of their seventeenth birthday, before they are enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, ruler of the land. They are then taken away to his castle, where they become serving girls and eventually cross paths with Dracula.

This novel is, as expected, full of gothic elements, which I really enjoyed reading about. It goes from the darkness in humans’ hearts, which can be filled with hate and prejudice without any reason, to the more supernatural gothic elements, exploring the myth of the vampire. All in all, the setting was believable and was perfect for a book you’d read during Autumn or near Halloween.

I found really interesting to read about the prejudiced dichotomy between the traveller community and the settled community in a historical setting, as it is rarely discussed. Not only are the main characters torn away from their homes, but they have to face prejudiced people who judge their way of lives. They are forced into a situation and would like nothing more than to be with their families and to find a home again. I’d have expected the twins’ relationship to be explored in-depth, but I didn’t find it wasn’t the case, which is a reason I couldn’t appreciate this story more.

This book mentions folklore of the travelling communities, which was interesting, but I’d have liked to know more about that. The divining day seemed like such an important way of these people’s culture, yet it was barely touched upon, which I understand as the girls are ripped away from their homes and in a way of their identity, but once they get answers, it’s pretty much barely discussed again, which was a shame.

To the core, The Deathless Girls is a character-driven story, but I unfortunately didn’t connect much with the main character. It felt like a really slow-paced book, which the last hundred pages made in part for, as they were gripping and focused so much on the myth of the vampire. It was chilling and exactly what I expected from this book. That being said, the first two thirds of the book were more about Lil’s story herself, from her community to being enslaved in a castle, and I didn’t care as much for that. The Dragon is referenced here and there, which makes his ultimate appearance all the scarier, but once again, I’d have liked to read more about the myth of the strigoï and the vampyre more from the beginning. All in all, don’t go into this book thinking you will hear about vampires from the very beginning, the topic is barely touched upon at first.

To be honest, most of the book felt abrupt and rushed to me. I found the romance really sweet, but would have liked more build-up for some scenes to make it believable. Like I said, the vampire elements come into play only in the last third of the book, and so do The Deathless Girls themselves. This novel felt like such an interesting idea, but I didn’t really like its execution: I found the final decision of the main character to be barely touched upon and anticlimactic, plus the final bride of Dracula was barely mentioned in the epilogue, getting two lines and not even a real name, which I found a bit ironic.

Overall, I liked this book, but am a little frustrated. I wish this book had been longer, so it had gotten more build-up. This story was such a great idea, but I felt like everything was rushed to go to the end, but because of that, I didn’t have time to get invested into the characters, the story or what was at stake for them. Still, I think readers will enjoy it more than I did and that it works well as a Halloween read.

[Review to be published on my blog on release day!]
Was this review helpful?
This was a very interesting read. It is not a traditional vampire novel, rather an exploration of life for two traveler girls in an unspecified time in the past. They are twins, and we meet them the day before they turn seventeen and their outdoor life is ruined by the landowners who kill and enslave travelers. There is lots of beautiful description and themes of prejudice and power. There is a strong focus on the girls being frightened by the prospect of sexual assault, and I would not recommend this book to younger teens. 

This book is better written than many YA novels, and rather than a traditional love triangle or misunderstandings with a boy, one of the twins instead develops a sweet relationship with a girl she meets. I really enjoyed the focus on the inner life of the female characters.

The ending, where the twins end up at Dracula's castle, is quite different to the rest of the book, and feels a little rushed- it makes sense in the context of this being a retelling of an aspect of Bram Stoker's Dracula. In all though, I really enjoyed this book and I know I would have loved it when I was 15 or 16. Not a typical supernatural or vampire novel, but one well worth reading.
Was this review helpful?
A fun book to get lost in. Not for those who are fans of historical accuracy. I enjoyed the references to traveller culture immensely and would've almost preferred more focus on that life than having vampires bought in.
Was this review helpful?
The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is an imagining of the story of the three brides of Dracula. This immediately piqued my interest because I’d already read and enjoyed Dracula, and I certainly appreciate a good vampire story thanks to the Twilight saga. This book, although vampires are a theme here, is on a different level though. It is cleverly crafted, with storytelling that is both rich and delicate.

I thought the idea of focusing on the three brides of Dracula was an admirable premise. Characters that had not yet had their past explained, but ones you had already sensed had an equally rich story to tell. Kiran certainly stays true to the blurb and delivers us a unique gothic tale, involving a sisterly bond amidst a great tragedy and future uncertainty. The book was full of gothic atmosphere, but at the same time felt modern and fresh, whereas you could almost believe this was not a tale set many years ago.

At times, the strong female characters dwarfed the male characters in this book somewhat - but not to an extent that the book is written just for the feminist story tag. I genuinely enjoyed the pace and dialogue between the two sisters and the other girls. Kiran also does an excellent job writing the romantic storyline between two female characters. At no point did this feel forced and added for effect - rather it felt like a natural sub-plot of the story and came across as both credible and beautiful.

My only criticism is the ending felt slightly rushed. I expected a bit more detail surrounding the other bride before the inevitable happened. Or, is this purposely done - will a second book will be written? I hope so. I certainly think there is more to be told, and for me, Kiran has certainly earned the authority over the three brides of Dracula and their future.

This book was a truly praiseworthy read and one I shall recommend. Not just to young adult readers - but adult readers such as myself, too.
Was this review helpful?
This is a retelling of a classic tale. The closeness of the traveller community and their deeply held beliefs is an integral part of the story. It  is also a coming of age tale told against a background of cruelty and fear. You are gripped by the sisters' story and Lil's brave decisions while she comes to terms with her feelings for Mira.
Was this review helpful?
THE DEATHLESS GIRLS is a feminist retelling of the origin story of the brides of Dracula. While the writing may at times be very lyrical and the pace less page-turnery than we've come to expect from YA, this was an enjoyable tale part of the ever-spreading canon of titles giving glossed-over female literary characters a voice and a story, which is why I thought it was apt that Dracula only made an appearance towards the end. The romance was swoony and very sweet. Not necessarily for fans of Buffy, more apt for readers of Michelle Paver's Gothic latest  WAKENHYRST. Thanks so much to Orion for this proof!
Was this review helpful?
I was really excited to read this especially as it is an origin story of the three vampire brides in Dracula. It started off really well and I really began to care for the two sisters who were the main characters - however as I read more I became a little bit bored with the storyline and it was quite slow in terms of plot and action and not as scary as I was hoping.
The villains were also one-dimensional caricatures and I could not take the book seriously because of this. The writing was good in parts but the plot and characterisation could have been much better in my opinion. It was however a quick and easy read.
Was this review helpful?